Micheel Campbell Share Lead

By Sports NetworkAugust 16, 2003, 4:00 pm
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Shaun Micheel, the overnight leader, bogeyed his final three holes Saturday but managed to share the lead with Chad Campbell after 54 holes of the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club.
 
Micheel, who reached 7 under par on the back nine, posted a 1-under 69, his third consecutive round under 70. Campbell carded the lowest round of the championship with a 5-under 65 and the pair are tied at 4-under-par 206.
 
Micheel reached 7 under par after a three-foot birdie at the par-3 15th but things went downhill quickly for the second-round leader. He drove into the right rough at 16 and had no other play but to pitch out to the fairway. Micheel's third landed 35 feet from the hole but his par save missed the hole.
 
At the 17th, Micheel missed the short grass again off the tee and played his second into a greenside bunker. His blast from the trap came up 40 feet short and once again he was unable to convert on the long par save.
 
Micheel, now with a one-stroke lead over Campbell, drove into the right rough near a bunker. He laid up short of the putting surface with his second and knocked his third 20 feet left of the pin. His putt for par came up left and short and so it was a share of the third-round lead instead of sitting on the lead by himself overnight.
 
'If you miss the fairway it doesn't matter if it's hole No. 1 or hole No. 16, 17 or 18, you're probably going to make bogey,' said Micheel. 'Overall, I'll be okay tonight. It's not a problem.'
 
While Micheel limped into the clubhouse, Campbell made his move up the leaderboard at the end of the round. Campbell hit a 6-iron to 15 feet to set up birdie at the 15th and the 29-year-old made it two in a row with a kick-in birdie at No. 16.
 
Campbell ran into trouble at the 17th when his drive went right, hit a tree and kept going right. He pitched out to the fairway, then hit a 7-iron to the middle of the green. Campbell two-putted for bogey but at 18 he sank a 35-footer for birdie to polish off his round of 65.
 
'The putt on 18 made up for all of the ones I missed all day,' said Campbell. 'Today I felt really good out there. I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens and gave myself a lot of opportunities for birdie.'
 
Masters champion Mike Weir shot an even-par 70 on Saturday and is alone in third place at 1-under-par 209. South African Tim Clark shot a 2-under 68 on Saturday and is alone in fourth place at even-par 210.
 
With two relative unknowns like Micheel and Campbell, both Nationwide Tour graduates, atop the leaderboard, some big names were unable to make a charge into the lead.
 
Phil Mickelson, the first-round co-leader, put together a round of 2-over 72 and is part of a group tied for 12th at 3-over-par 213.
 
Tiger Woods, still in search of his first major title since the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage, carded a third-round 73 and is tied for 43rd place at 9-over-par 219.
 
'I played my tail off to shoot 3 over today. I really did,' said Woods, who the Wanamaker Trophy in both 1999 and 2000. 'I grinded my butt off just to shoot 3 over.'
 
Things don't look good for Woods, barring a miraculous round on Sunday, and 2003 looks like it will be the first season without a major since 1998.
 
As shocking as Woods not having a major trophy this year, it might be even stranger to see who has won the big four of golf. Weir and Jim Furyk, who won the U.S. Open at Olympia Fields, were top players when they won their inaugural majors but British Open champ Ben Curtis was ranked nearly 400th in the world when he titled at Royal St. Georges.
 
Now it looks like Micheel or Campbell are ready to add their name to the list. Twelve of the last 15 PGA Champions were first-time major winners and if one of these two, or any other majorless player, can visit the winner's circle Sunday afternoon, it will be the first time since 1969 that all four major winners were first-timers.
 
'I will say it will probably enter my mind,' said Campbell. 'I've tried to keep it out of my mind but it's kind of inevitable that it will happen. We've still got a lot of golf to play, 18 holes tomorrow. I just want to come out and try to stay focused on what I'm doing and not try to get ahead of myself.'
 
Campbell opened with four consecutive pars but broke into red figures with a tap-in birdie at the fifth. He knocked a 3-iron to tap-in range for birdie at the seventh and made it two in a row with a 15-footer at No. 8.
 
He parred his next six holes before his dramatic finish that jumped him to the top of the leaderboard.
 
Micheel was in the final group Saturday and maybe nerves took over at No. 1 because the 34-year-old drove into the rough and made bogey. He settled down with five pars in a row, never really giving himself good looks at birdie.
 
Micheel drained back-to-back seven-footers for birdie at seven and eight and ran home a 30-footer for birdie at nine to make it three in a row.
 
On the second nine, Micheel made a 15-foot birdie putt at 12 to go to 6 under and along the way, he made some spectacular par saves. He sailed over the green at 13 but holed the 20-footer for the save.
 
He seemed to have the tournament wrapped up when he got to 7 under at 15, but Oak Hill's demanding closing holes caught up with him. Now he's in the final group on Sunday at a major championship, tied for the lead.
 
'Anybody can win,' said Micheel. 'If you're playing on the PGA Tour you can obviously play. Just because people haven't heard of me or Chad doesn't mean we can't play.'
 
Ernie Els (70), Billy Andrade (72), Briny Baird (67) and Alex Cejka (68) share fifth place at 1-over-par 211. Vijay Singh, the 1998 champion, Fred Funk and Charles Howell III all posted matching rounds of even-par 70 to tie for ninth at plus-2.
 
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    Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

    By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

    After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

    But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

    Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

    Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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    Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

    By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

    Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

    The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

    “There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

    “To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

    Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

    “To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.

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    Rose: T-2 finish renewed my love of The Open

    By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 9:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose made the cut on the number at The Open and was out for an early Saturday morning stroll at Carnoustie when, all of a sudden, he started putting together one great shot after another.

    There was no pressure. No one had expected anything from someone so far off the lead. Yet Rose shot 30 on the final nine holes to turn in 7-under 64, the lowest round of the championship. By day’s end he was five shots behind a trio of leaders that included Jordan Spieth.

    Rose followed the 64 with a Sunday 69 to tie for second place, two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. His 133 total over the weekend was the lowest by a shot, and for a moment he thought he had a chance to hoist the claret jug, until Molinari put on a ball-striking clinic down the stretch with birdies on 14 and 18.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I just think having made the cut number, it’s a great effort to be relevant on the leaderboard on Sunday,” said Rose, who collected his third-career runner-up in a major. He’s also finished 12th or better in all three majors this year.

    In the final round, Rose was well off the pace until his second shot on the par-5 14th hole hit the pin. He had a tap-in eagle to move to 5 under. Birdie at the last moved him to 6 under and made him the clubhouse leader for a few moments.

    “It just proves to me that I can play well in this tournament, that I can win The Open,” Rose said. “When I’m in the hunt, I enjoy it. I play my best golf. I don’t back away.

    “That was a real positive for me, and it renewed the love of The Open for me.”

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    Woods does everything but win at The Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 22, 2018, 8:57 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a proud man who spent the majority of his prime scoffing at silver linings and moral victories, Tiger Woods needed little cajoling to look at the bright side Sunday at Carnoustie.

    Sure, after a round in which he took the solo lead at The Open with nine holes to go, the first words out of Woods’ mouth were that he was “a little ticked off at myself” for squandering an opportunity to capture his 15th major title, and his first in more than a decade. And that immediate reaction was justified: In the stiffest winds of the week, he played his last eight holes in 2 over, missed low on a 6-footer on the final green and wound up in a tie for sixth, three shots behind his playing partner, Francesco Molinari.

    “Today was a day,” Woods said, “that I had a great opportunity.”

    But here’s where we take a deep breath.

    Tiger Woods led the freakin’ Open Championship with eight holes to play.

    Imagine typing those words three months ago. Six months ago. Nine months ago. Twelve months ago.

    The scenario was improbable.

    Inconceivable.

    Impossible.

    At this time last year, Woods was only a few months removed from a Hail Mary fusion surgery; from a humiliating DUI arrest in which he was found slumped behind the wheel of his car, with five drugs in his system; from a month-long stay in a rehab clinic to manage his sleep medications.

    Just last fall, he’d admitted that he didn’t know what the future held. Playing a major, let alone contending in one, seemed like a reasonable goal.

    This year he’s showed signs of softening, of being kinder and gentler. He appeared more eager to engage with his peers. More appreciative of battling the game’s young stars inside the ropes. More likely to express his vulnerabilities. Now 42, he finally seemed at peace with accepting his role as an elder statesman.

    One major, any major, would be the most meaningful title of his career, and he suggested this week that his best chance would come in an Open, where oldies-but-goodies Tom Watson (age 59) and Greg Norman (53) have nearly stolen the claret jug over the past decade.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    But success at this Open, on the toughest links in the rota?

    “Just need to play some cleaner golf, and who knows?” he shrugged.

    Many analysts howled at Woods’ ultra-conservative strategy across the early rounds here at big, brawny and brutish Carnoustie. He led the field in driving accuracy but routinely left himself 200-plus yards for his approach shots, relying heavily on some vintage iron play. Even par through 36 holes, he stepped on the gas Saturday, during the most benign day for scoring, carding a 66 to get within striking distance of the leaders.

    Donning his traditional blood-red shirt Sunday, Woods needed only six holes to erase his five-shot deficit. Hearing the roars, watching WOODS rise on the yellow leaderboards, it was as though we’d been transported to the mid-2000s, to a time when he’d play solidly, not spectacularly, and watch as his lesser opponents crumbled. On the same ancient links that Ben Hogan took his lone Open title, in 1953, four years after having his legs crushed in a head-on crash with a Greyhound bus, Woods seemed on the verge of scripting his own incredible comeback.

    Because Jordan Spieth was tumbling down the board, the beginning of a birdie-less 76.

    Rory McIlroy was bogeying two of his first five holes.

    Xander Schauffele was hacking his way through fescue.

    Once Woods hit one of the shots of the championship on 10 – hoisting a 151-yard pitching wedge out of a fairway bunker, over a steep lip, over a burn, to 20 feet – the outcome seemed preordained.

    “For a while,” McIlroy conceded, “I thought Tiger was going to win.”

    So did Woods. “It didn’t feel any different to be next to the lead and knowing what I needed to do,” he said. “I’ve done it so many different ways. It didn’t feel any different.”

    But perhaps it’s no coincidence that once Woods took the lead for the first time, he frittered it away almost immediately. That’s what happened Saturday, when he shared the lead on the back nine and promptly made bogey. On Sunday, he drove into thick fescue on 11, then rocketed his second shot into the crowd, the ball ricocheting off a fan’s shoulder, and then another’s iPhone, and settling in more hay. He was too cute with his flop shot, leaving it short of the green, and then missed an 8-footer for bogey. He followed it up on 12 with another misadventure in the rough, leading to a momentum-killing bogey. He’d never again pull closer than two shots.

    “It will be interesting to see going forward, because this was his first taste of major championship drama for quite a while,” McIlroy said. “Even though he’s won 14, you have to learn how to get back.”

    Over the daunting closing stretch, Woods watched helplessly as Molinari, as reliable as the tide coming in off the North Sea, plodded his way to victory. With Woods’ hopes for a playoff already slim, Molinari feathered a wedge to 5 feet on the closing hole. Woods marched grim-faced to the bridge, never turning around to acknowledge his playing partner’s finishing blow. He waved his black cap and raised his mallet-style putter to a roaring crowd – knowledgeable fans who were appreciative not just of Woods making his first Open start since 2015, but actually coming close to winning the damn thing.

    “Oh, it was a blast,” Woods would say afterward. “I need to try to keep it in perspective, because at the beginning of the year, if they’d have said you’re playing The Open Championship, I would have said I’d be very lucky to do that.”

    Last weekend, Woods sat in a box at Wimbledon to watch Serena Williams contend for a 24th major title. Williams is one of the few athletes on the planet with whom Woods can relate – an aging, larger-than-life superstar who is fiercely competitive and adept at overcoming adversity. Woods is 15 months removed from a fourth back surgery on an already brittle body; Williams nearly secured the most prestigious championship in tennis less than a year after suffering serious complications during childbirth.

    “She’ll probably call me and talk to me about it because you’ve got to put things in perspective,” Woods said. “I know that it’s going to sting for a little bit here, but given where I was to where I’m at now, I’m blessed.”

    But Woods didn’t need to wait for that phone call to find some solace. Waiting for him afterward were his two kids, Sam, 11, and Charlie, 9, both of whom were either too young or not yet born when Tiger last won a major in 2008, when he was at the peak of his powers.

    Choking up, Woods said, “I told them I tried, and I said, 'Hopefully you’re proud of your Pops for trying as hard as I did.' It’s pretty emotional, because they gave me some pretty significant hugs there and squeezed. I know that they know how much this championship means to me, and how much it feels good to be back playing again.

    “To me, it’s just so special to have them aware, because I’ve won a lot of golf tournaments in my career, but they don’t remember any of them. The only thing they’ve seen is my struggles and the pain I was going through. Now they just want to go play soccer with me. It’s such a great feeling.”

    His media obligations done, Woods climbed up the elevated walkway, on his way to the back entrance of the Carnoustie Golf Hotel & Spa. He was surrounded by his usual entourage, but also two young, cute members of his clan.

    Sam adhered to the strict Sunday dress code, wearing a black tank top and red shorts. But Charlie’s attire may have been even more appropriate. On the day his dad nearly authored the greatest sports story ever, he chose a red Nike T-shirt with a bold message emblazoned on the front, in big, block letters:

    LOVE THE HATERS.

    After this riveting performance, after Tiger Woods nearly won The Open, are there really any left?